Hated health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced on Wednesday this week that the government will impose its dangerous new contract for junior doctors by October.
Hunt was responding to junior doctors’ resounding rejection of the contract. Despite the British Medical Association (BMA) not calling for rejection, 58 percent voted against on a 68 percent turnout.
The contract will mean junior doctors are paid less for unsociable hours and would put lives at risk because of increased workloads and stress.
In response to the rejection vote Hunt said, "We've been left in no man's land that, if it continues, can only damage the NHS.”
But he does not want to save the NHS and has previously published a roadmap about how to privatise the health service.
“Hunt doesn’t want a contract that’s best for patients, doctors or the NHS,” said Megan Parsons, a junior doctor in Manchester. “If he did, he would be consulting us.”
After the results of the vote were announced on Tuesday the leader of the BMA’s Junior Doctors Committee (JDC) Johann Malawana stood down. He had campaigned for a vote to accept the deal.
Newly elected JDC leader Dr Ellen McCourt said, “The BMA will need to consult with members before deciding on the next steps.”
The ballot for strikes is still live and the vote must lead to restarting the action. The earlier strikes shook Hunt, and no time should be wasted in taking the fight back to the Tories.
Junior doctor Jeeves Wijesuriya told Socialist Worker. “There has been a very clear mandate from the membership. Almost 60 percent of those who voted are clear that this contract offer does not contain the assurances that our members need,” he said.
Talking about the possibility of more strikes he said, “It’s quite clear that all options remain open to us.”
Megan Parsons said, “We still have a mandate for industrial action. The only thing the government will listen to is strikes.
“It would be good to coordinate strikes with teachers in the autumn. Quite a lot of the doctors I’ve spoken to have raised it with me.
“In our area we’re planning a joint meeting between teachers and doctors. We’re travelling down to London to join the NHS block on the 16 July demonstration against austerity and racism as well.”
The political crisis gripping the Tories means that the government cannot withstand sustained resistance and hard-hitting strikes could win a victory that would be a boost to everyone fighting for the NHS.